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Davis v. Harris

May 25, 2006

RICKEY B. DAVIS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOHN W. HARRIS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the court on the Defendants' Motion for Sanctions for Perjury (Perjury Motion) (d/e 244), the Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions for Violation of the Court's Seal (Seal Violation Motion) (d/e 254), and the Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions for Violation of Court's Orders (Orders Motion) (d/e 266). For the reasons set forth below, the Perjury Motion and the Seal Violation Motion are DENIED. The Orders Motion is ALLOWED in part.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Plaintiff Rickey B. Davis claims that Defendant City of Springfield (City) police officers harassed him and retaliated against him by, among other things, following him late at night while he was driving around the City observing officers under his command as part of his duties as a Springfield police officer. Complaint (d/e 1), Count I ¶ 20(h), Count II ¶ 19(h). One of the Defendants' explanations for following Davis was to see if he was engaging in personal matters while on duty.

The Defendants propounded the following interrogatory on Davis to discover whether he was engaging in a sexual affair while on duty:

1. Have you engaged in extra-marital sexual conduct with any person in the previous five years? If so, state the name, address and phone number of each individual with whom you have so engaged, the location where you engaged in such sexual conduct and whether such conduct occurred at any time you were on duty.

Perjury Motion, Exhibit A.

On August 4, 2004, Davis provided the following answer under oath to this interrogatory:

ANSWER: Objection. This information is not relevant to the issues in this matter and is not reasonably calculated to lead to relevant or admissible information. Without waiving the objection, no.

Id.

On January 11, 2006, representatives of the Defendants met with Jane Doe. Doe informed them that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Davis for about six years, ending in 2002. She told the representatives that Davis came to her home in uniform and while on duty. Doe lived in Jerome, Illinois, just outside the City's limits, At the initial meeting, Doe asked if the City would pay the attorney fees she would incur in connection with coming forward with this information. The Defendants' representatives declined. Doe also met with the Mayor at one point shortly after this initial meeting. During her discussions with representatives of the Defendants, Doe indicated that she would sign an affidavit. The Defendants' counsel prepared a draft affidavit, but Doe decided not to sign after speaking with her attorney. She later contacted one of the investigating officers and asked if he could help her son get a job with the City. The officer told her that he could not help her, and her son should apply through the normal channels.

The Defendants filed the Perjury Motion based on Doe's information. The Defendants argued that Davis lied under oath when he answered, "no," to the above quoted interrogatory. They further argued that his affair was relevant to explain the reason that the officers were following Davis. The Defendants claimed that Plaintiffs' counsel knew or should have known that Davis had lied. The Defendants asked for additional time to conduct discovery to explore this newly found information. The Court gave them time to conduct additional discovery.

The Court also granted the City's request to file the Perjury Motion under seal. The Court ordered that the Motion be sealed to protect the identity of Doe. Shortly after the Court ordered the matter sealed, the City filed a notice of deposition, identifying Doe, by name, as the deponent. The Court quickly, sua sponte, had the notice sealed. The notice, however, was on the public record for brief period of time. The Plaintiffs have asked this Court in the Seal Violation Motion to sanction the Defendants for violating the Court's instruction to keep the identity of Doe confidential.

During the supplemental discovery, the parties deposed Davis, Doe, and several other witnesses. Davis testified that he had an affair with Doe from 1995 to 1998 or 1999. He stated that the affair ended more than five years prior to the date of his answer to the interrogatory. The interrogatory only asked whether he had an extra-marital affair within the last five years. Thus, he answered truthfully when he said, "No." Davis further testified that he never engaged in any activities with Doe ...


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